Different Needs for the Different Stages of Our Lives

human needs.

The Life Cycle

The life cycle begins with infancy and develops into childhood. At approximately 20 years of age, we celebrate adulthood and conclude our lives as senior citizens. These four basic stages can be broken up into hundreds more, all equally important to the development of our “self.”

Thomas Armstrong, executive director of the American Institute for Learning and Human Development, teaches the 12 stages of life:

  1. Pre-Birth
  2. Birth
  3. Infancy
  4. Early Childhood
  5. Middle Childhood
  6. Late Childhood
  7. Adolescence
  8. Early Adulthood
  9. Midlife
  10. Mature Adulthood
  11. Late Adulthood
  12. Death

During each of these stages, we have different needs, goals and experiences, but they all contribute equally to the human life cycle.


Defining relationships, observing their surroundings and developing motor control are some of the basic skills learned as a baby. Dependent on caregivers, infancy brings a series of new developments at a fast pace.


In this stage of life we define the inner subjective self and develop technical and social skills that we employ later in our adult lives. Children are creative and willing to imagine and pretend. From their caregivers they need the ability to explore. This can be achieved by allowing children to try new activities, like after-school sports, learning an instrument or summer camp.


This is a period in life when you begin accumulating responsibilities. It is the beginning of the need to make our mark on the world. Great growth is experienced in adulthood as families are created and identities are formed through success at home and in the workplace.

In adulthood, one might experience:

  • New desires and life goals (different from goals in previous stages of life)
  • A change in health
  • Growth in family
  • Greater spiritual understanding
  • Withdrawal from society/reality (midlife crisis)


As we age into senior citizens, we gain a heightened sense that the last stage of life is approaching. For many this is a time to slow down and reflect. Aging adults need to feel important and should remain in good company with activities that keep them engaged.

The Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow established the hierarchy of human needs. It is widely believed that there is an order of human needs. The most basic needs are biological. Once biological needs are met, a person moves to the next level.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs includes:

  1. Biological – These are the needs that we have to maintain life, including clean air, water, food, shelter and sleep.
  2. Safety – Basic protection from the elements, understanding that there is a set of community laws that keep your neighborhood stable and secure.
  3. Belongingness – The desire to be needed in the forms of intimacy and friendship.
  4. Esteem – Earning success, independence, and self-respect.
  5. Self-Actualization – Seeking personal growth and developing a greater understanding for your place in the world.

Regardless of the stage of life we are in, these represent the basic needs of all human beings. In every stage, from infancy to death, there are different growth milestones that we should celebrate. As your needs and the needs of those around you fluctuate, enjoy the progression from one stage to the next. After all, it only happens once.

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